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Archive for the ‘Beloved’ Category

Beloved is in graduate school.  He attends a pretty cool low-residency program in Vermont specializing in children’s literature.  He’s doing really well, and is accomplishing VERY long-standing goals.  However, we (you may have noticed) do not live in Vermont.

Because it is low-residency, he only has to attend school twice a year, for 10 days.  January and July.

Last January, I was such a baby-lawyer, I could barely open my eyes.  I was a little busy, and it made me nervous when he was gone.  What if something comes up?  What if I get a new assignment?  But it was fine, and I think I left at 4:30 every day.

Last July – the girls were in the Middle of the Country with the Ex, and Beloved and I had already started our moving process.  There were no difficulties.

This January – total different picture.

I’m fully engaged in a case that is culminating this month in every way.  Discovery is closing, summary judgment is being filed, experts are being hired, court hearings are happening.  It’s insane.  INSANE.  And I’m heavily involved in every aspect of it.

I was already nervous – that getting out of work at a reasonable hour was going to be difficult.  Of all months, this is the one where deadlines happen.  I was nervous.

Then, ha ha!  What made me think I knew what nervous was?

It looks like I have the great honor of traveling to a very different part of the country to tend to one of the many aspects of the case that is my Life, even though it’s a bit beyond my seniority level.  It just so happens to be during Beloved’s absence (and over days that are (a) a national holiday, and (b) inauguration day.  Feh.)

At first, it looked like it was just one day, and it was a day that was a school holiday, so I knew that the kids would be fine with friends.  Then it ended up two days, and two long days – long enough that once you add in travel, it may affect 4 days.  Yikes.  Beloved’s only gone for 10 days — I’m having issues for HALF of them?  Unbelievable.

I was going to post about how my decision to make my community one of my many priorities with my time becomes oh-so-valuable in times of need.  I have friends that I can ask for a hand – friends who I’ve given a hand to in the past, and who know that I’m an active and engaged member of our community.

But now, it seems like my needs are too big, and instead, I’m turning to family.  I’ve begged my mother to (re)arrange her work schedule so she can come while I’m gone.

E is mad at me – she overheard me talking to a friend who is my back-up plan, and insists that I hadn’t told her the whole story about next week before telling the friend.  She is mad about the options I have considered for her while I’m gone.  Some friends are out of favor, and others are just plain old “annoying.”  Humorously, she thinks she should be left home alone.

It was hard not to laugh at that one.

All in all, the stress levels are high.  I keep thinking about how, in the past, I’ve looked forward to certain things – or dreaded them – and then they happen.  And before I know it, it’s behind me.

I keep telling myself … it will be January 22nd before I know it.  Beloved will be home, and this difficult time will have passed.  i have a lot of friends.  I am very lucky.  The girls are well-loved, and people are happy to be supportive.  We live in an awesome community, where people are nearby and hyper-willing.

It will be okay.

And I will miss my Beloved.

And I am sad that I should be more supportive, and excited with him about his exciting time, and instead, I’m kinda on the verge of tears over my own stress and fears.  He gives so much, and deserves better.

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[This post has been sitting in draft-form since mid-December … largely because of the things explained here – I was too busy to finish it.  I find myself coming back to continue the theme, but realized I hadn’t followed through on starting the theme.]

I’ve read on several blogs that us lawyer moms are too close-to-the-chest with the reality of our work-life balance issues.  I have always hesitated to say much in that regard because my job is important to me, and I’m not willing to have a bitch-fest in a public forum.  Not that I’ve had much to bitch about, really, for the most part.  I also don’t think “oh, things are going so well!  I come home at 5:30 every day!” sounds all that genuine.  Even though for almost my entire first year, it was true.

Now, however, I am willing to share my recent challenges.  I am challenged because the case I am working on is in the throes of a discovery deadline.  I am challenged because this is what I went to school to do.  It is no fault of my firm or the partners and senior associates that I am working with that the opposing party filed a motion to compel that required our response the Monday after Thanksgiving.  Everybody on my team (a small one) is working as hard as I am – likely harder.  The senior people are certainly juggling more cases than I am, and they are adding in a ton of travel on top of the things we’re doing together that have me running ragged.

The past few weeks (or so) have been hectic, chaotic, harried, stressful and generally insane.  I feel like the first year of easy-breezy first year associate life came to an abrupt end somewhere in October.  Or so.  Or maybe before – I’m not really sure, because it’s all a blur.  

A big reason for the all-out chaos, however, is because I refuse to put certain things aside.  E was in a play during this madness, and I prioritized that.  Not only attending the play (all 4 performances), but fulfilling my commitments and responsibilities  to pitch in to the parent-run event.  I was completely unwilling to let her – or my community – down.  I informed the partner and the associate that I work with early in the week, and assured them that I was willing to work late nights (at home, after the play) and early mornings in order to make up for the lost time.  

In retrospect, I could have worked during the play, late nights, and early mornings, and done a better job.  But I don’t for a second regret that I kept that time sacred.  

I have been exhausted.  Before the holidays, I had been functioning on very little sleep during the weeks.  I was setting my alarm for 5 and 6 a.m. on the weekends, and parking myself and my research at our dining room table for the entire day.  Or at least until the latest possible moment before stopping to cook dinner for dinner guests, or to dress for a holiday party.  

During the holidays, despite making very early announcements that I planned to take the week of Christmas off (because my sister was coming to town), I ended up working almost every day that wasn’t a real “holiday.”  The stress levels were high, and there was a lot going on.  

So I guess now I know what it really means to be a lawyer.  To juggle at a frantic pace, to see 7:30 or 8 p.m. as a perfectly reasonable dinner time for a family of four …  and a couple of times, to miss dinner time (as many times in the past month or two as I had in the entire last year).  And now, to top it all off, travel is starting to creep in as a possibility on a regular basis.  

It’s been tough.  But I knew that going in, and I enjoy having work that keeps me mentally engaged.  I also am more than aware of the fact that layoffs in law firms are becoming almost routine, and I’m grateful to have this job.  I do not think it’s irrational to work my ass off right now in exchange for a feeling of security and stability.  I hold onto the reality of peaks and valleys.  Once we hit our deadline on January 30th, I may find myself twiddling my thumbs.*

And, as always, I can’t really talk about my comfort level with the situation without talking about Beloved, and his daily presence.  The girls are not alone – they are not knocking around an empty house.  If that were the case, I would be much less comfortable.  But instead, they have help with their homework, they are helping him and learning to cook, they are working on projects.  

Anyway.  These are my balance struggles.  Which I should likely keep dumping onto this forum, rather than whining to everybody in my day-to-day life about how busy I am.

* which could also be read as: putting all my time and attention to the school play that I am PRODUCING.  What the heck?

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Years old!

Today was my birthday.

Through fantastic home cooked meals, disproportionate investments by offspring, phone calls from loved ones, and yes, Facebook Wall posts, I felt as loved and celebrated as I wanted to.

And through 10s of thousands of documents that HAD to be reviewed today, and the ever-growing to-do list at work and at home (i.e., kids’ school commitments, which may or may not include, oh, i don’t know, producing a major school play????), I was reminded that 3 dozen is far from 3.  Or One Dozen.  I am old.  And my birthday does not matter all that much, except to those who are dear to me.  And I thank them for their love and consideration.

Onward !!!  (because tomorrow is Beloved’s birthday!  And I have gifts to wrap, and a cake to wrap!!!)

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[not for the feint of heart]

Last night, E and I were sitting on the couch in our living room.  We had gone out to see Twilight with friends, then to Starbucks for a post-movie warm drink (so why the kids ended up with frappucinos is beyond me …)  We got home after 10.  I was so tahd.  I had a a tough day at work.

Because I am not all that traditional in my beliefs about “appropriate conversations with your kids,” I said, “E, I got my period today, and I have cramps.”  She said, “oh, poor mommy.”  And I said, “do you know when that means I will NEXT get my period?”  She did some quick math in her head, and said, “oh!  the 25th!”  And I said, “of what month?” and she said, “Decemb … oh, that sucks.”

Beloved and I have been enjoying an increased intake of green beans lately.  Law school is over, the stress of a first year at a new job is over, life is a little steady (even though he is in school …)

But we don’t like messy grean beans.

And so, on this Thanksgiving, we will be having some green beans in the traditional cream of mushroom soup with dried onions on top.  And that is it.

Sorry, Tranny-head, for the boring green beans post.  But I think it still counts.

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The beauty in my house.

1)  Beloved’s optimism.  He is not, by nature, an optimistic boy.  He was not, since March, an Obama fan, as I was.  But now – he’s just full of (sorry …) hope and excitement.  He loves what he’s seeing, and i love seeing him UNcynical about the way of the world.

2)  J’s sense of humor.  She is a very funny bird, and even after some tears and a minor catastrophe over a loose molar that she won’t wiggle and that may very well be impacted … she can crack jokes and make us all laugh until we want to pee our pants.

3)  E’s Mandarin skills.  How strange to have your offspring pick up a pen and create such very different language on a page.  I can’t believe how quickly she became so confident with her pen dashing across the page making … (to me) pictures.  She spent the later part of the evening writing out sentences for me in  Mandarin characters, phonetic Mandarin, direct English translation, and conversational English translations.  Wow!  (The best part may be how much she loves it, and that this activity was something SHE chose to do, and had fun with.

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Before we moved, I canceled all of our newspaper deliveries. 
 
We had been getting the New York Times on Sundays, and the Boston Globe every day. 
 
The reason for this plethora of paper and news was that last year, in about November, J’s teacher made a comment that she was one of the least informed in the class.  D. and I knew why.  We don’t watch the local news, or the mainstream news.  We occasionally watch the News Hour on PBS, but our schedule has shifted later and later to the point where we’re rarely settled and in front of the t.v. by 6 p.m. when it comes on.  We don’t watch the other news, because we don’t really CARE about the brutal slayings in Georgia or Idaho or wherever this week’s sexiest “news” story is happening.  We don’t care about the warped teasers thrown out before the commercial break.  We don’t care about the back door of some remote town’s school’s equipment shed that was left unlocked one night last weekend, causing a “safety concern.”  We don’t want to subject the girls’ precious little minds to the sensationalism and nonsense that comes with most news shows.
 
So when her teacher made the comment, we thought perhaps we should find a way to integrate the days’ events into the girls’ lives more.  (Even though E stayed aware, mostly through listening and participating in our conversations, her friends’ conversations, the internet, and her own general curiosity – something that J does lack in this area.  You might say that E is our budding activist while J is our budding Uninformed Voter.)  We decided the best thing to do was have the newspaper around.  Something she could come to when curious, but not have forced upon her. 
 
From November until July, we had stacks and stacks of newspapers in the house.  Underfoot in the entry way, almost always wrapped in their delivery bags until they were removed to be recycled at the end of the week. 
 
Hence, the cancellation upon the move.  But we missed the Sunday papers – which at least D read every week.  I more picked and chose through for the “fun” sections, but I read something every week.  On September 15, I went to the New York Times’ website and re-ordered the paper.
 
On September 21st, I heard the Sunday morning delivery person making his/her way down the street, with the “thunk thunk thunk” of papers on porches, and excitedly went to get my Sunday morning paper.
 
It wasn’t there. 
 
I pouted, but assumed my order just hadn’t gone through yet. 
 
Later that week, though, my bill arrived, and it said “Service Start Date:  9/21/08.”  I was too busy to worry about the $5 or whatever that I was billed for nothing. 
 
Then, on September 28th, again, the thunk, the running down the stairs (we live on the 2nd floor).  No paper.  The neighbors’ Globe was there.  But no Times. 
 
This time, I called.  They said there was a “production delay” in our area, and that we would not be receiving a paper that day.  I pushed whatever series of 700 buttons necessary to talk to a person to let them know I hadn’t received the paper the previous week, either.  They apologized, credited my account, and assured me that delivery would be normal the following week.
 
On October 5th, I trundled down the stairs with sleep still in my eyes clutching to the fantasy of brewing some coffee and reading the paper at my dining room table. 
 
Nothing.
 
Again, I called.  Again, they credited my account, and apologized that they would be unable to deliver a replacement paper because of some snag in production or a lack of a driver or something.  They were really nice.  I was pretty irritated.
 
October 12th.  Guess what?  No paper.  I called AGAIN, on the verge of, but not quite, seething.  They said that once again, there was a production delay, and we’d receive our paper by 10:30 a.m.  But at 11 a.m., I called again with no paper in hand.  Angry.  Now they were understanding the urgency.  They were going to “request an investigation” and “send a memo” to the distribution center.  They also were going to get me a replacement paper. 
 
I spent the whole day running to the porch at every noise and car door closing and balls bouncing.  No paper. 
 
D. suggested that we cancel the subscription.  He didn’t think they would believe us anymore.  He thought they would assume we were lying to get free papers.  He asked “are you sure they know we moved?”  And I told him:  every time I call, the recording asks “please confirm that your street number is ___.”  With the proper number – not the old (very different) number.  Then I showed him my statement, with my name, account number, and current address on it. 
 
Then yesterday – I was sure, after the investigation and all, that my paper would be there.  Of course I would have a paper now.  They investigated
 
So I ran downstairs to be greeted, once again, with an empty and dejected porch.
 
I called again.  I told them I needed to just cancel the damn thing.  The very friendly boy on the other end said, “I really wouldn’t want you to cancel your paper,” to which I had no choice but to exclaim in a possibly loud voice “BUT I DON’T GET A PAPER!!”  He pulled up my account and verified that I had, in fact, lodged “several complaints.” 
 
He did convince me not to cancel.  I mean, what’s the alternative?  It’s almost November.  It’s getting cold outside.  If I cancel the paper, then I’m committing myself to either 1) no paper (or continued on line reading, which just isn’t as cozy) or 2) trudging outside in the cold and potentially snow every Sunday morning to get a paper.  Ick!! 
 
I decided to mention the move to him.  It had occurred to me that perhaps it was the same delivery person as at my old address, and perhaps he just saw my name on the list, and since it’s a crazy-unique name, he just assumed he knew where I lived.  And kept plunking paper down in the lobby of the old building.  Perhaps stacks and stacks of weekly original AND replacement papers were barring the entry of the tenants of the old building, and the driver was pulling his hair out at the constant requests for new papers. 
 
This boy promised me a replacement copy.  And another investigation.  I rolled my eyes a little, and said goodbye. 
 
I checked a few times during the late morning, with the kids and the husband and now even the parents who were in for the weekend all laughing at me.  With good reason, I suppose.
 
But at 12:20, when my father and I were walking out the front door to go for a walk to buy a new potato peeler because I had a horrific experience helping D prepare the mid-day meal with the crappy-ass peeler that he last bought after we inexplicably lost 4 consecutive peelers just in the 4 months that we’ve lived in this house — guess what greeted me on the stoop? 
 
THE SUNDAY TIMES!!
 
I was so excited!!  I ran it upstairs and belittled D for being of little faith and for mocking my perseverance.  He rolled his eyes at me (something E is forbidden from doing so why he gets away with it, I have no idea) and then greedily snatched the precious blue bag from my hands. 
 
I did not actually read the paper until 9 p.m., but I did read more than I ever have before, and I put the Magazine in my bag for train reading. 
 
My father and I returned from the paper-finding walk at approximately 1:15.  They left for home at 3:30, and I walked out my door at 4:50 to trek to the Gap and other errands.  I was home at around 5.  E came home for the evening at 6:30. 
 
And this morning, I left my house at 7:06 a.m.  I opened the door to let the cat out before me, and he stopped to sniff yet another blue bag.  I thought perhaps it was the Monday paper – that they totally screwed up and put us on a daily schedule.  Or perhaps, they decided to try and compensate me for my frustration by adding to my recycling pile. 
 
But no – it was another Sunday paper. 
 
Now I’m wondering if a neighbor stole it, and put it back in the night time? 
 
Whatevs.  At least I was able to keep myself occupied with a pleasant distraction while watching the Red Sox lose last night … 

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We have been struggling in our house as of late with some changes coming about in E.  This pre-adolescence has been relatively calm.  I am grateful for my slower developer.  I am glad that I have time to get used to the attitude and the increased independence before I need to buy bras and tampons and listen to complaints about boys (or girls?).  I get to ease in. 

 
 
But for one area which has been painful.
 
 
The child (almost-not) eats like a freaking person obsessed.  She walks in the door “I’m hungry.”  She eats something and fifteen minutes later “I’m hungry” comes yet again.  Her desires could be worse – she wants to eat our TJ’s High-Fructose-Corn-Syrup-Free granola bars almost non-stop; she wants salami slices; she wants cheese.  We aren’t talking candy bars (although the granola bars are close, and we are phasing them out) and potato chips.  Or donuts and soda.  We’ve done a good job at getting her to understand nutrition and what’s important.   But we do have a “fruit first” rule, and she does resist it.  She also say after she has her “fruit first” she has to alternate other snacks with fruit in between.   This pisses her off. 
 
 
Does it really, though, have to be every 10 minutes?  And if I’m exaggerating with the 10 and 15 minutes, I can easily ground the conversation in reality by saying “she wants to eat every hour, perhaps less.”
 
 
We are working to put this more in her hands.  We don’t need to be developing eating issues – and part of me fears that her constant asking for food is actually coming from our up-till-now resistance more than it’s coming from hunger. 
 
 
These are the ideas we have:
 
 
1) a block cheese and some triscuits, to which she has complete access after school.
2) a tub of peanut butter and a tupperware of celery sticks, to which she has complete access.
3) teach her to make rice (a favorite of hers) and allow her to make a bowl for an after-school snack.
4) find some way to STILL insist that everything be intermingled with fruit while still maintaining a responsible hands-off approach.
5) find a way to insist that she still be hungry for dinner, with the same concerns above being addressed.
6) find a way for D. and I to disengage our frustration-buttons as she continues to ask for food and ask permission for food and ask for more food and then eat more food, and then eat 3 bites of dinner before saying “I’m not hungry.” 
 
 
FOOD!!  Argh!!! 
 
 
While J, on the other hand, maintains her vegetarian status.  We had to threaten her this week with a cessation of special-cooked meals on account of her leaving the table after taking 2 or 3 bites.  D. works hard to make her balanced meals that closely approximate the meaty items on our dishes, and sometimes she just wrinkles her nose and picks around the dish and walks away.  It’s getting to be a little deflating for the cook in the house who works so hard to be respectful of every one’s choices.  If she can just pick around the dish, then I think she can just pick around the meat and eat the non-meat.  D. understands the vegetarian a bit more than I do, though, having had his own forays into that lifestyle, and is willing to just put her on notice of what may be in store.  She seems to be taking the hint to heart, and being a bit more respectful in her own right of the work and consideration being put forth for her…
 
 
All the while I keep coming into work with my leftovers in hand just to find that I’ve been scheduled for yet another interview lunch and am forced to stash D’s fantastic cooking into the mini-fridge so I can partake in yet another 3 course meal designed to woo the best and the brightest to my firm; and to woo my gut into the next size of pants. 
 
 
grrrrr.

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